In April 2007, a letter was written to the Editor of the Moses Lake, Washington newspaper about concern for the care of animals at the local shelter. Several members of the community responded to the letter and it was discovered that hundreds of dogs and cats were being euthanized each year due to lack of space and resources. The shelter building itself was woefully outdated and overran with disease. Parvo was a frequent and merciless visitor. The organization operating the shelter refused to allow the community to intervene and instead abandoned the shelter in July 2007 with over 100 dogs and cats inside.
In the span from April until July, the community had rallied. The letter to the Editor had sparked awareness that the pet overpopulation in Grant County was spiraling out of control and something had to be done. Several ambitious individuals combined their abilities and formed the Grant County Animal Outreach (GCAO), submitting a business proposal to the City of Moses Lake for the operation of the animal shelter. On July 9th, 2007 GCAO assumed operation of the Moses Lake Animal Shelter. There were no supplies left in the shelter and the sweltering heat turned the cinderblock building into an oven. Being a newly formed organization with no incoming revenue structure, GCAO relied heavily on the community and volunteers to begin operations. There was only enough income to hire two employees. The Board of Directors volunteered in their free time to overhaul the existing shelter and help eliminate the recurrence of disease and death. In its first year of operation, GCAO took in 2,498 animals. 808 were adopted, 273 went to rescues, and 878 were euthanized.
For the past ten years, GCAO has partnered with the City of Moses Lake, Grant County, and Washington State University to establish a steady revenue stream and improve shelter operations. Local veterinarians and multiple rescue organizations volunteer services and time, transporting the overabundance of dogs and cats coming into the shelter to individual rescue groups, regularly in Western Washington. Enriching relationships were formed with rescue organizations all over Washington State, resulting in a large network of care and placement for the homeless pets of Grant County. GCAO has evolved into a diverse network of compassionate employees, Board Members, and volunteers, each with the united desire to improve the lives of pets in Grant County. By offering the community discounted microchipping services and social awareness, more than double the amount of pets are being returned to their owners.